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Lighting 101 for Presentation and Telepresence Spaces

3942083161 ec53fba35c bBoth presenters and participants want to see and be seen in the best possible light and also want to be able to see their notes and handouts. Lighting for videoconferencing is crucial but can be much simpler to manage than it may seem. With the proper fixtures, dimming, and zoning, it’s easy enough to create the right amount of full and relatively shadow-less lighting on the participants and a general wash on the backgrounds. One must pay special attention to lighting the presentation areas at the front of the room, but elaborate theatrical lighting is generally not necessary.

  1. In many small and mid-size rooms (less than 750 square feet), an eight-zone dimming system can provide sufficient lighting control for both presentation and videoconferencing. In small dedicated videoconference rooms, two to four zones of lighting may suffice.
  2. Avoid inexpensive manual wall dimmers. They can create electrical “noise” that may interfere with the electrical presentation systems. However, small commercial dimming systems, such as the Lutron GraphicEye 4000 series, are very cost competitive compared to numerous manual wall dimmers, both in parts and in installation labor.
  3. Commercial dimming systems also generally provide a higher noise filtering capability and include remote control for the presentation systems.
  4. In general, lighting levels of 35 to 40 foot candles (fc) are sufficient for illuminating the videoconferencing participants. This should include a significant horizontal component of 25 to 35 foot candles, sufficient for background and perimeter surfaces.
  5. For front projection applications, lighting must be carefully controlled to allow no more than 3 to 6 foot candles on the screen to maintain minimum contrast. The current generation of bright LCD and DLP projectors cannot overcome excessive ambient light on a front projection surface.
  6. For videoconferencing, avoid fixtures that direct the majority of their light downward towards the floor or work surface. This includes the typical down-light can, track-lights, and recessed fluorescent troffers with divided lenses.
  7. For videoconferencing, use fixtures that direct the majority of their light at an angle, towards the participants and/or provide a significant amount of up-lamp wash against the ceiling.
  8. Wall wash fixtures should be linear types to provide a smooth distribution on the wall from both top/bottom and laterally. Avoid down lights or any fixture that provides a scalloped pattern.
  9. Dimmable florescent lamps, if used, must be the one percent type; five percent and ten percent are not acceptable.
  10. Fluorescent fixtures must use 3200 degree Kelvin lamps where available.
  11. As a general rule, do not mix incandescent and fluorescent fixtures due to their color temperature differences. These differences will appear more pronounced on video cameras than in person.


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